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Turnip Greens and Corn Pone

This Southern Turnip Greens recipe is about as country as can be! It's a traditional recipe that uses a slightly healthier cooking method.
5 from 7 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
A mound of cooked turnip greens in a white serving bowl.

Turnip Greens and Corn Pone is about as Southern as a recipe can be! Smoky flavored, tender greens served with crispy, golden brown skillet fried cornbread is an old-fashioned delight.

Okay, everybody. This really is about as Southern as it gets. Turnip Greens and Corn Pone. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water.

A serving of cooked turnip greens in a brown bowl.

Whenever the weather starts to turn the least bit cooler I always start thinking about turnip greens. With cornbread on the side. And a baked sweet potato. And maybe a crispy, fried pork chop. Oh, my.

Southern Girl Needs Her Greens

When BeeBop and I were newly married and exiled to New Hampshire by the U.S. Navy, we really missed our familiar southern foods, especially fresh produce. Luckily for us we found a little place called Tuttle’s Red Barn. It was a farm near Portsmouth owned and operated by the same family for generations. And they had a produce store open to the public.

Well, one fall afternoon we went out to Tuttle’s to get some farm-fresh produce and I noticed their very large display of turnip roots. However, no greens! Being the naive young southern girl that I was then, I went up to one of the workers and asked where the turnip greens were. She directed me to the lovely display of roots.

I very sweetly explained to her that what I was looking for was the greens, you know the part that grows above the ground out of the tops of the roots. Well, that girl looked at me like I had three heads and each of them had sprouted horns. She said, “the tops!?!? We feed those to the pigs!” Whereupon I very sweetly informed her that in the south we cook and eat the greens and if she had never had any then she didn’t have a clue what she was missing.

Needless to say, I went home without any turnip greens that day, but it did cross my mind to sneak around back of the store and see if the pigs had any to share.

Washing Greens is a Pain in the Behind

Now you have to really want turnip greens badly to go to the trouble of washing them. It’s a painstaking, time-consuming process. They always seem to have a lot of grit clinging to the leaves and you certainly don’t want that in your pot! I have heard tell of folks cleaning their greens in the washing machine. In a pillowcase. Really.

Fortunately for all of us, they now come washed and ready to cook in lovely cellophane bags in the produce section of the grocery store! Oh, happy day when those pre-washed greens became available!

I used to do the traditional recipe where you cook some sort of smoked meat in water for a while to make a seasoned broth, then add the turnips plus a load of bacon grease and cook for hours. However, these days I do try to lighten things up. Sometimes. So, here’s how I make turnip greens now.

How to Make Turnip Greens

Large pot filled with turnip greens.

Place the greens into a large pot with enough water to cover. Turnips are like any other leafy green in that they will cook down to a much smaller volume. If the pot is overflowing with greens, that’s okay. It’ll only be that way for a few minutes.

A spoon of bacon grease , left; A spoon of bouillon, right.

Add the bacon drippings and chicken bouillon.

My Way of Lightening up the Seasoning

Now, see that one little bity tablespoon of bacon grease up there? That little bit is not going to hurt anybody but it will add a wonderful smoky bacon taste to the greens.

The chicken bouillon gives it a second depth of flavor. The combination of the two substitutes for the big piece of smoked meat we traditionally use in this recipe.

I use that combination with lots of vegetables. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 45 minutes to an hour or until greens are tender.

Check for seasoning. Add salt to taste if needed.

Some people add a pod of red pepper to the pot. If that’s your thing, go right ahead! Also, most people eat their greens with a vinegary pepper sauce or red chili pepper flakes. There’s no wrong way to eat turnip greens!

Now, what’s the point in having turnip greens if you don’t have some corn pone to go along with them. After all, you’ve got all that wonderful pot likker (for those of you not from the South, pot likker is the juice in the pot from the cooking of the turnip greens) and there’s not much better with that than some old-fashioned corn pone.

How to Make Corn Pone

Corn pone is simply another variation of cornbread. It’s my favorite cornbread, actually, and here’s how I make it.

First, a note about the cornmeal. You really need some finely ground white cornmeal to make good corn pone. It’s not very easy to find outside of the South and in some of the more “metro” areas of the South, it’s hard to find now. I can’t find it at all here in north Georgia, so I just make sure to get a couple of bags whenever I go back down to south Georgia. It’s very different from the standard yellow cornmeal.

If you really want to try some, I do know that it can be purchased online from Amazon.

Iron skillet inside an oven.

Preheat the oven to 475. Pour the vegetable or canola oil into a 9 or 10 inch cast iron skillet and place it into the oven while preheating.

Photo collage showing the mixing of corn pone bread.

When the oven is nearly up to temperature, mix the cornmeal, salt, and water. The batter should be slightly thicker than a pancake batter, but thin enough to pour.

Photo collage showing the pouring and forming of corn pones in an iron skillet.

Carefully remove the now hot pan from the oven and, working quickly, pour the batter into small rounds (3 or 4 inches across) in the hot oil. Spoon some of the hot fat on top of the batter.

Return the pan to the oven and bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Broil for the last 2 to 3 minutes, if needed, to make the corn pone extra golden and crispy around the edges.

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Lana Stuart.

More Questions? I’m happy to help!

If you have more questions about the recipe, or if you’ve made it and would like to leave a comment, scroll down to leave your thoughts, questions, and/or rating!

Thanks so much for stopping by!


A mound of cooked turnip greens in a white serving bowl.

Southern Turnip Greens

This Southern Turnip Greens recipe is about as country as can be! It's a traditional recipe that uses a slightly healthier cooking method.
5 from 7 votes
Print It Rate It Save Text It
Course: Side Dishes
Cuisine: Southern, Vintage
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 69kcal
Author: Lana Stuart


  • 2 pounds fresh turnip greens cleaned, cut, and washed
  • Water (see notes)
  • 1 tablespoon bacon fat
  • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon or 1 cube
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • In a large pot, combine the greens, bacon fat, chicken bouillon, salt, and water (see notes)
  • Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.
  • Cover and cook for 45 minutes or until the greens are tender. Check the water level during cooking and add more if needed.
  • Taste and add additional salt if needed.


  • You’ll need enough water to cover the turnips by about an inch once they’ve wilted down into the pot. I usually start with about 2 quarts and adjust as needed.
  • Cool the greens completely and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They’ll keep well for up to 3 days.
  • May also be frozen in an airtight container for up to three months. Allow them to thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat on the stovetop over low heat or in the microwave.

Nutrition Information

Serving 1 | Calories 69kcal | Carbohydrates 11g | Protein 2g | Fat 3g | Saturated Fat 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat 1g | Cholesterol 2mg | Sodium 455mg | Potassium 448mg | Fiber 5g | Sugar 1g | Vitamin A 17519IU | Vitamin C 91mg | Calcium 288mg | Iron 2mg

Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Hi, I’m from Florida and my husband is from Alabama. We both met, married and reside in NY State. One day I told him that my mom used to make Turnip greens with corn meal but I didn’t know how to make it and all the ladies from her generation has passed on to glory. So I decided to go online and look for it. What popped up? Your recipe. I was so excited. This will be our dinner tonight. Thank you so much for putting it online. Now our next adventure will be to find how to make Tea-Cakes :).

    1. I’m so glad you found the recipe and I hope your thoroughly enjoy your dinner! And, by the way, all you need to do is a quick search on my site for the best tea cakes recipe.

  2. My husband planted my collard patch last weekend! As a twist, I sauté a couple of slices of thick cut, smoked bacon, remove from my big pot and add the greens then. Proceed to toss and coat the greens then add water to cover. We like subtle spice so I add a couple of tablespoons of a Cajun spice mix called “Slap ‘Yo Mama”. It’s available online. Never add sugar! We also love any kind of field peas and fix the same way. BTW you can always add water but starting with too much can affect the flavor!

  3. I’m home with the flu, and could cry this looks so good! I wish I had a bowl in front of me right now, with some pepper vinegar (both for flavor, and to clear out my sinus’s!) This is my favorite cornbread of all time, although I miss my grandma’s little finger prints on the top (she’d press the tops down once they were in the pan). My grandparents raised pigs, but they did not get our greens!

  4. Lana,
    By the way bacon grease keeps very well in an air tight container in the freezer and tastes like you just fried the bacon. ;)

  5. Hi Lana,
    I’m from the Midwest and we call these “Hot Water Corn Bread” because instead of using cold water we add boiling hot water to the meal, yet the end results are the same. They are some good crunchy little buggers and taste just as well as with Sauerkraut and Pig Feet or Baked Ribs in the oven with Sauerkraut. They are absolutely delightful! My kids loved them when they were growing up and were requested quite frequently.

  6. Greens and bacon grease – so good! What you are calling corn pone is known in some parts of SE Alabama & the panhandle of Florida as fried corn bread. The best corn bread there is! Also, you don’t have to put it in the oven. Just continue frying until it’s crispy. The thinner the batter the crispier the bread. If you make more than you can eat at one meal you can reheat in a cast iron skillet on low on the stove. It’s not as good as fresh but darn close.

    1. I’m from SW Georgia, Beth, but we never called this “fried” cornbread, always corn pone. And yes, you can cook it on top of the stove but it makes a big mess. That’s why I like to put it in the oven :-) We also do a very thin cornbread that is always fried on top of the stove and we call that “Lacy Cornbread.” It’s light, thin and full of holes…looks like lace almost!

      1. I live in Southern South Carolina. The Greens really should only be cooked for only a few minutes. They keep the nutrition and are not slimy, with a little crunch. Cook the Collard the same. I put water in a pot, add ham hocks, and some raw bacon. I let the water boil for 30 minutes to get the flavor in the pot for the greens. I keep it boiling, add the green, cover it with a lid, and cut the burner off. Done

      2. Well, I and thousands of other traditional southern cooks would beg to differ with you. If you want bitter, undercooked greens go right ahead by all means. I’ll cook mine done. And, by the way, I’ve never had slimy greens.

  7. Can I replace the water with buttermilk, I was always remembering my memaw In Mississippi using buttermilk.. And without a dab of sugar will the greens be bitter… I too keep bacon grease in the freezer, how long will it keep if I just keep it in the fridge?

    1. Hi Lorri – there are so many different kinds of cornbread. Some of them use water and some use buttermilk. I usually use buttermilk in the ones that are thicker and more cake-like. Water is one of the things that make pone bread (or hoe cakes) turn out flatter. About the sugar in the greens…I have never in my life put sugar in greens and they don’t taste bitter to me. Bacon grease I keep in the fridge for sometimes as much as six months. Just smell it to make sure it doesn’t have a rancid odor before you use it.

  8. Yum! I grew up on this stuff. I have never made corn pone that way, though. Mom taught us to fry it in the cast iron skillet on top of the stove. (We call if fried corn bread.) Do you have to turn it?

    1. No, you don’t have to turn it but you should be sure and spoon some of the hot oil over the top when you put it in the oven. I cook it that way to avoid some of the mess the stovetop cooking makes :-)

  9. Yep, that’s about as good as it gets. You know, the old folks always said that greens taste sweeter if they are picked after the first frost. If I had any planted, they would be pretty tasty after last night. When there’s a bit of cool in the air, nothing can match turnip greens, corn pone, and roasted sweet potatoes. Yum!!!

    Miss P

  10. Lana,
    I smiled reading your turnip recipe. EVERY good Southern cook keeps bacon grease on hand. When I lived in CA, everyone thought I was nuts…the questions was always WHY do you keep bacon grease??? Definitely a Southern thang!

    The corn pones recipe reminds me of of Sunday dinner at my Grandmothers. YUM!!! And it was dinner, NOT lunch! :-)

    1. Absolutely! I keep a little jar of bacon grease in the refrigerator all the time. I don’t use it as often as I used to, but it’s always there…just in case. And, yes, it was dinner, not lunch! And later that evening was supper.

  11. Oh this is making me hungry! I love greens, all kinds of greens. I married a southern boy and being from an Italian family, well the greens were right in there! Never made pones, so I’m putting your recipe on my must try list! Thanks for sharing it Nana Lana.

  12. Nana Nana – that is my kind of eating … a bit healthier than mine Istill use a smoked ham hock), chicken broth a tad of sugar….